Published On: 11/24/2015

NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Branch to receive Health & Safety Research and Educational Excellence Award

The first recipient of the Research and Educational Excellence Award is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR), Hearing Loss Prevention Branch (HLPB). The award recognizes a research institution exemplifying exceptional innovation and dedication toward advancement in technology or education for the protection and well-being of miners. 

“We are very grateful to receive the 2013 SME Health & Safety Research and Educational Excellence Award,” said Jim Thompson, chief, HLPB of NIOSH/OMSHR. “The recognition of the work HLPB has done to prevent miner hearing loss is very gratifying.” 

NIOSH is the United States federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations to prevent worker injury and illness. The HLPB was formed in 1999 to develop a research program in support of the noise requirements of health standards for occupational noise exposure. The HLPB seeks to understand the noise exposure of miners in the workplace and develop noise controls to reduce exposure. 

A distinguishing feature of this research group is that it does not stop at successful demonstrations of controls and scientific presentations. A major focus of HLPB has been on commercialization of the controls to insure that they are available for use by miners, mining companies and mining equipment manufacturers. The team has been successful in fostering commercial products that significantly reduce or prevent noise overexposures for miners. 

Among the products now available as a result of the HLPB’s research are:

  • Bit isolator to provide 4-6 dB of noise reduction for the operators of roof bolting machines. 

  • Dual-sprocket chain now used on more than 40% of the continuous mining machines (CMM) in the U.S. These chains reduce the noise exposure by 3 dB and reduce the likelihood of overexposure by 50%. 

  • CMM coated flight bars that lower the sound levels by 3 dB and provide a major reduction in the overexposure of miners. 

For more information on HLPB go to

The Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc. (SME) is a professional society (nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation) whose more than 15,000 membership represents all professionals serving the minerals industry in more than 100 countries. SME members include engineers, geologists, metallurgists, educators, students and researchers. SME advances the worldwide mining and underground construction community through information exchange and professional development. SME's staff is located in Englewood, Colorado.

For more information contact John Hayden, Deputy Executive Director - Public Affairs and Government Relations, at (303) 948-4250 or